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Probate: without a Will

Minnesota Probate Law

If a person dies without having written a will, or without a valid will, then the person has died intestate.

Probate of an intestate estate can proceed formally or informally, just as probate can with a will. Having a will or not does not trigger the formal/informal distinction, though having certain kinds of wills can trigger the different requirements.

When a person has no will, then the Minnesota intestate succession law governs how property will be distributed. Intestate laws were written specifically to simplify the probate process when there is no will and, for the most part, to eliminate or reduce the competing claims among the interested persons over the decedent's estate.

If you have any questions or seek representation, please contact me, a Minnesota probate attorney.

The Minnesota Intestate Statute

The intestacy laws distribute the decedent's property to his or her heirs when the decedent either dies without a will or does not account for all of his or her property within the contents of a valid will.

The shares are split according to relationship to the decedent, with the spouse and children having the greatest right to the decedent's property.

The Spouse's Share

The surviving spouse is entitled to the entire estate if the decedent has no surviving children, grandchildren, or further descendants, or if all of the decedent's children or grandchildren are also the descendents of the surviving spouse.

If the spouse and decedent had children apart from each other, then the spouse will take the first $150,000 plus half of anything that remains of the estate. If the estate is $150,000 or less, then the spouse will take all of the property.

Everyone Else's Share

If the decedent dies without a will and either there is no spouse or if not all of the estate passes to the spouse, then some portion of the estate will pass to other heirs.

The first distribution is to the decedent's descendents, by representation. Descendents are children and grandchildren and so on. By representation means that the shares of the estate are divided among generations, such that each surviving child receives one equal share, and each surviving grandchild receives a portion of one equal share of a deceased child as determined by the number of grandchildren.

The formula is slightly complicated, and even more so when parents and grandparents become intestate heirs. It is always best to consult an attorney.

No Takers

If there are no persons qualified under Minnesota's intestate statute to claim the estate, then the entire estate will pass to the state to fund the treasury.

If you are ready to talk to a lawyer, please contact me, a Minnesota probate attorney, with questions or for representation.

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Service Areas: I am willing to represent clients throughout Minnesota, including Aitkin County, Becker County, Carlton County, Dakota County, Faribault County, Goodhue County, Hennepin County, Isanti County, Jackson County, or Kanabec County, just to name a few. Whether you are in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, or Aitkin, Anoka, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Foley, Mankato, Ortonville, New Ulm, Carlton, or Chaska, I will represent you.